Great News: 2 Million People Liberated by the ACA

We understand that our point of view on many things is, shall we say, somewhat out of the mainstream. And we understand that this is particularly true when it comes to issues of life / work balance. But that understanding didn’t stop us from being a bit bemused to read all the recent handwringing and teeth gnashing over some unabashedly good news.

“Health Care Law Projected to Cut Labor Force,” cried the New York Times

“CBO: Obamacare Is A Tax On Work, May Cut Full-Time Workforce By 2.5 Million,” yells Forbes

That certainly sounds bad. So why are we so happy?

We’re happy because we are examples of the poor souls over which Forbes is so bereft. We’re examples of people who got individual health insurance policies without needing to bind ourselves to some giant corporation. That freed us to leave the traditional labor force and start working for ourselves, or not working depending on our particular needs, circumstances, time of day, location or mood. Four years later, we couldn’t be more pleased.

Maybe a better question to ask is why the popular media is so sad? 

If you actually read the report that these news organizations cite, you’ll notice something peculiar. The estimated decline in work hours they’re complaining about is voluntary.

The estimated reduction [in labor] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor.” CBO pg 117

This isn’t a story about companies cutting jobs or reducing hours for people who want them. It’s about employees quitting jobs and choosing to work less. The CBO estimates upwards of 2.5 million people will do that in the coming years because of the Affordable Care Act.

Before the ACA many people were trapped in jobs they didn’t want because it was the only way they could get health insurance. We sympathize strongly with their plight because for a while we feared we’d share that fate. Now that they can buy individual health insurance polices regardless of their medical history people are leaving those old bad jobs. 

They’re moving on to early retirement, or to start new businesses, pursue other passions, travel the world, raise their children or, who knows, maybe dabble in all of the above. It’s great news, and a feature of the law we wrote favorably about back in 2012. We’re delighted to see it finally come to fruition even if the media can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea that, for some people, being better off actually means working less.  

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12 Comments on “Great News: 2 Million People Liberated by the ACA”

  1. laureneliseharper February 6, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    It seems as though the 2.5 million people voluntarily leaving their jobs free up space for 2.5 million people who need work, but haven’t been able to find it. Thank you for your blog – I love it!! Have fun in GA and NC!


    • Brian February 6, 2014 at 10:18 am #

      That strikes me as correct. And not just me, the CBO who issued the 2-2.5MM estimate essentially said the same thing – that the reduction in the labor supply would reduce the unemployment rate. Horrible stuff, to be sure. 😉


  2. digger666 February 6, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Reblogged this on digger666.


  3. mytimetotravel February 6, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    So true! My friend who kept working because he had what would have been a “pre-existing condition” can now retire. This also means he can move to Texas to live near his grandchildren. And as lauren points out, this will free up a job for someone else.


    • Brian February 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

      I imagine there will be a lot of stories like this. Thanks for sharing yours.


  4. Gunta February 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    The one thing Sarah got right, calling it the lame-stream media. I really miss actually balanced reporting of the news.


  5. writecrites February 6, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    I wish the Times and Forbes would print your post, but unfortunately, media thrive on disasters. Even the president’s PR people should read it (and use it). Their wordy response sounded more like a cover up. Perhaps you should offer your services when they need to put something in simple, easy to understand terms.


    • Brian February 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks Jennifer. We do try to be clear. Sometimes we even succeed. 🙂 I think if we have an advantage on this particular topic it’s probably that we’ve spent so much time thinking and worrying about our own healthcare coverage. As we said in our original post on this topic – for us health insurance isn’t a political issue, it’s a practical issue. And an incredibly important one at that.


  6. Ship's Cook February 7, 2014 at 1:41 am #

    The big corporations don’t like the idea of losing 2.5 million from the unemployment register as it means there will be less competition for jobs hence pushing the price they have to pay for labour up. But then I would say that coming from a country where we have had ‘pinko socialist’ free healthcare since 1946. To most of us Brits (baring some of the greedy super rich who control the Conservatiove Party and want to deny it to those who need it most) we don’t understand why this is such a big issue in the USA.


  7. Pat February 7, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    It really is crazy because it could be spun as making it possible to reduce the unemployment rate. If they are worried about laziness, people have always been able to choose to live on “welfare” with medicaid but most people don’t want to be unemployed – they just don’t want to be employed in “bad” jobs. A possible unintended outcome of this law is that employers will have to improve working conditions and wages to attract good employees. Oops, there I go again with my fantasies. Thanks for stating the obvious, Brian.


  8. Kings On the Road February 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    Thanks to an ACA subsidy we’ve seen a 99% reduction in our premium with better coverage and even dental. We no longer need to find a low pay Summer job. Let someone else work who needs to or wants to more. Everyone should apply to for a better life.


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